It’s happened again, but not because of guns

ESCANABA — This has been a difficult week across the country as we’ve once again been witness to the real world and another atrocity involving an attack on innocent children in a Florida school.

It has been a week of mourning, as well as added controversy centering around the debate asking how can we stop this from ever happening again. It is a horrible affect to see polarization and feel the way those gun owners like me do, in trying to provide our perspectives in educating those who are not familiar with the mechanics of firearms.

Do I take issue with those who want more gun control? No I don’t, if their emphasis is on how firearms are handled and used versus a vain attempt to eliminate a design series as a source of a threat. To have a logical discussion regarding firearms, one needs to fully understand how they work. Current debate has centered on action and capacity.

In the case of guns, action is defined as: an operating mechanism; the manner in which a mechanism or instrument operates. Capacity is defined as: the amount of rounds (bullets or shot shells) that can be loaded into a gun including barrel and magazine.

From primitive single shot action to multi-round double action or semi-automatic action, a gun has the same fundamental outcome. It fires a projectile from compressed gas (burning gunpowder) through a tube (barrel) with the intent of hitting a target. While media often refers to handguns and some rifles as “automatic,” meaning the users pulls and holds the trigger and the action continues to feed rounds for fire without interruption, it should be clear that guns used by the general public, by law, are not permitted to purchase, possess or modification of any gun to full automatic.

The capacity of rounds (bullets or shotshells) is determined by how many are stored in the gun for consecutive shooting. The device, a magazine, is also fundamentally the same in every gun, be it designed as in chamber, tube cylinder or clip-on stacking attachment style. Laws for hunting restrict capacity afield to provide fair chase in pursuit of wild game. The highest restriction is in the case of waterfowl hunting, where a magazine plug is mandated for shotguns to physically restrict capacity.

It used to be that unless you were affiliated with law enforcement, security or the military, by law and licensure, an individual could not carry a handgun in public, especially under concealment.

Michigan at one time did allow a restricted concealed pistol license in the mid 1980s. The restricted type allowed concealment and transport in a vehicle when the gun was used for sporting purposes. This particular license was abandoned once the general law was changed enabling personal carry. It also laid in a requirement to obtain and pass testing in a certification class before being eligible for application and licensure to carry concealed.

This was a big step and continues today with more people signing up, especially after situations like that experienced this last week in Florida. People are worried about the human predators lurking about and want more protection. The Second Amendment in our Constitution does not require any safety training for general ownership.

By mid-December in 2016, there were 916,000 applications for first time gun buyers in the United States. When polled, some indicated they were actual Christmas presents for others. The majority of pistol buyers surveyed indicated the guns were for use in personal protection, including home protection. I don’t know the exact numbers but consider that at least a portion of those new owners who didn’t obtain any safety training and have a loaded firearm in a drawer or under a mattress in the home are a potential accident waiting to happen.

Those who did enroll in a first ownership class or an actual CPL course, prior to or after point of purchase, do have a handle on appropriate care and use of a gun in personal protection. Those licensed for CPL are very aware of the additional restrictions and liabilities that comes with the turf. I do not chose to participate in open carry option except in a hunting situation. I feel it is a tactical error, but that is my choice and I respect those responsible individuals that do.

While U.S. law does provide the right to own, most states require safety certification for use of firearms while hunting in the public domain. In Michigan, anyone born since 1960 are mandated to obtain safety certification. Even some hunters exempt by age still obtain certification in order to hunt in other states that require it from any hunter. It has reduced gun-related hunting incidents to a point that the potential for accidents and injury has been reduced to less than 1 percent.

I am an advocate of requiring those who chose to open carry in a public domain must also first obtain adequate training so they understand all the considerations mentioned above.

I have twice now departed my membership with the National Rifle Association (NRA) due to policy differences. I am advocate of application and background checks for purchase, including at gun shows, and an advocate of safety certification. While I believe the majority of NRA members joined to have a strong voice in keeping our right to own and bear arms as part of the Constitution, I do believe there are appropriate considerations when it comes to considering public safety. My first responsibility is to myself in doing the right thing, but there are those who just don’t care.

Given this perspective, now I’d like to sit down with someone as concerned as me, to find the root cause of why people participate in using guns (or other mechanisms) to inflict carnage on the innocent.

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Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Trails & Tales Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.